How to Keep Dancing When the World Says You Shouldn’t
I dream of dancing. It breaks my heart that I’ve never been very good at it.
“What were you doing? What were you thinking?” she asked.
“Dan… cing?” I pushed wet hair out of my stinging eyes and shook out the cotton skirt of my dress. Even in the dark, I could see that its hem had become stained and sticky, a location-specific blend of ash and off-brand Ribena. I was in the indie room but I had not been executing the approved indie shuffle. Instead, I chose to leap into the air and then hurl myself to the ground every time I heard Damon Albarn’s Tarzan yelp of a “WOOhooooo!”
Though I was soaked in sweat and seven gins in, I immediately felt very cold and very sober. My blood seemed to be separating and my tongue felt too big for my mouth. The sensation was the distinct opposite to what I had been feeling, or rather not feeling, seconds ago, when my body seemed wholly undefined, smooth as soup, its outlines a suggestion, an impressionist painting. I had known seconds of lustrous, profound joy, while listening to pop songs in the basement of a cheap nightclub in York. But Hannah’s frown indicated that it was the wrong kind of joy, or at least that I was expressing it incorrectly. She continued: “Just so you know… those boys are looking at you.”
I followed the line she traced with her index finger. (Incidentally, it was the finger she used for approved pointing as the beat slowed during the first few bars of Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out.”) Two beefy boys — assumed rugby players — with flipped-up collars were staring at me. And not in the way a 20-year-old woman wants to be started at. If either of them expressed a desire to have sex with me, it would be part of an attempt to win a hilarious bet.
I dream of dancing. And it breaks my heart that I have never been very good at it. When I dance, really dance, it’s not a mandatory slouch, step, wiggle, or response to a beat. I can part a room. Half, or slightly less than half, of the people in attendance will see my leaps and rolls and respond as though I am an avant-garde performer, a young Michael Jackson, Baryshnikov interpreting Beyoncé. The rest, the most, will want to know why I can’t hold my liquor (did she get spiked?) or whether…